Bathhouse(redirected from bathhouses)
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premises equipped for washing the body with the simultaneous action of water and hot air (in Turkish and Roman baths) or steam (in Russian baths). In Russia, as in many other countries, bathhouses were widespread from ancient times; they are mentioned by the chronicler Nestor (11th century).
The construction of bathhouses in the USSR is carried out according to standard layouts accommodating 50–300 people in cities and 10–50 people in urban-type settlements and rural localities. Depending on their arrangement, bathhouses may be classified as ordinary, disinfection center type, or combination bathhouses; buildings furnished only with showers—known as shower baths—which are sometimes installed in summer pavilions, are also built. Modern bathhouses may have swimming pools, rooms for physical therapy, and disinfection chambers. So-called steam rooms, in which the temperature reaches 40–50° C and the relative humidity is 90 percent, are also widespread. In some bathhouses there are separate rooms with dry heat. The layout of a bathhouse depends on its purpose.
In bathhouses of the disinfection center type, which are intended for sanitary processing, the bathers’ dirty clothes are disinfected and clean underwear is issued. During the Great Patriotic War bath trains, dugout baths, and portable shower installations were widespread.
In determining the size of a bathhouse, the space needed for one person is computed as 0.35 sq m for the cloakroom and vestibule, 0.75 sq m for the waiting and cooling-off rooms, 1.3–1.4 sq m for the dressing rooms, 2.25–2.40 sq m for the soaping rooms, 3.5 sq m for the showers, and 6 sq m for the steam rooms. Not less than 150 liters of water are used per person in the bathhouse; the shower facilities use 400–600 liters per hour; a bath with a shower requires 550 liters per hour.
Washing in the bathhouse affects the whole organism. In the steam room the body almost completely stops emitting heat; its temperature goes up to 38–39° C, as a result of which oxidizing processes and metabolism increase in the organism. Intensive secretion of sweat (in the steam room and dry heat compartment) promotes removal from the organism of the end products of metabolism and eases the work of the kidneys. Under the influence of high air temperature the dilated skin capillaries become filled with blood diverted from internal organs, thereby promoting the elimination of manifestations of congestion and improving the circulation of the blood. In healthy young people the alternating action of heat and cold, accompanied by the dilation and constriction of skin capillaries, has a beneficial effect on the blood pressure and cardiac activity. For persons with organic heart diseases, arteriosclerosis, aneurysms, hypertonic diseases, and so forth, as well as for children, use of the steam room is harmful.
V. A. GORBOV